A Denver district court judge declared Colorado's controversial Amendment 2 unconstitutional last week, ruling that no vote of the people can impair an individual's constitutional rights.

Amendment 2, passed a year ago, was a vote to ban state or local anti-discrimination laws designed to protect homosexuals. The amendment, passed by a 54% vote by the state's voters, sparked a series of nationwide boycotts last year that did little to diminish a record season for tourism. Following last week's court decision, gay groups around the state called for an end to nationwide tourist and convention boycotts.

The ruling was widely expected after an earlier temporary order barring enforcement of Amendment 2 by Denver District Judge Jeffrey Bayless. Colorado Attorney General Gail Norton promised to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court and, if necessary, the U.S. Supreme Court. The state was sued by the cities of Denver, Aspen, and Boulder, which have laws that prohibit discrimination against gays.

Bayless said that Amendment 2 "fences out" gays from laws that would protect them from discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, he also refused to rule that gays deserve protected status as a minority. Bayless said he found no evidence that gays are politically vulnerable or powerless.

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